How Harvey Weinstein became one of the most powerful figures in Democratic politics before his career was rocked by a sexual harassment scandal

Harvey Weinstein is a highly influential donor for the Democratic Party, and has been active in party politics since the 1990s. Here he is with then Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, and Sen. Chuck Schumer in October 2006

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Harvey Weinstein is a highly influential donor for the Democratic Party, and has been active in party politics since the 1990s. Here he is with then Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, and Sen. Chuck Schumer in October 2006
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Sylvain Gaboury/Getty Images

Harvey Weinstein, the film producer and co-founder of Miramax Films and the Weinstein Company, has long been known for behaving inappropriately towards women within Hollywood circles.

Yet until a New York Times report detailed nearly three decades’ worth of sexual harassment allegations against him from women in Hollywood, he was able to retain his job and the vast influence he has in Democratic Party politics.

Already known as the “most powerful man in Hollywood,” Weinstein has personally donated over $750,000 to Democratic politicians and organizations since 1991, and has became one of the largest fundraisers for the Democratic Party in Hollywood. Here’s a chronology of how he acquired his political empire:


Weinstein’s political involvement began in the early 1990s.

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Harvey Weinstein with actress Catherine Zeta-Jones at a premiere in November 1991
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Dave Bennett/Getty Images

Weinstein began to make contributions to the Democratic Party in 1991, when he gave money to Sen. Barbara Boxer of California and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Over the next few years he gave relatively small amounts – all $2,000 or less – to Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, along with several other Democratic senators. He also began giving to Democratic Party organizations for the first time, initially to the Democratic State Central Committee in California.

It was also during this period that Weinstein allegedly began to harass several of the women named in the New York Times report.


Weinstein began supporting the Clintons in the mid-1990s.

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Weinstein (L) with then First Lady Hilary Clinton (center) and Gwyneth Paltrow (R) in December 1998 at the premiere of ‘Shakespeare in Love.’
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Peter Morgan/Reuters

In the later half of the 1990s, Weinstein began donating to a broader set of politicians and doing so much more frequently ahead of the 1996 and 1998 elections. He also made his first contribution to the Clinton family at the start of Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1995, and made his largest donation up to that point in 1996 when he gave $10,000 to the Democratic National Committee Services Corporation.

As a result of his rapidly growing financial ties to the Democratic Party, he began appearing at events with Bill and Hillary Clinton and other party heavyweights like Sen. Chuck Schumer.


Weinstein invested both time and money to support the Democratic Party and Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election.


Although the Democrats lost that election, Weinstein continued to build close ties to the Clintons in the early- and mid-2000s.

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Weinstein (L) with President Bill Clinton (R) at First Lady Hillary Clinton’s birthday party in October, 2000, just before the presidential election
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Nick Elgar/Getty Images

In the early 2000s, Weinstein continued to contribute frequently to Democratic politicians across the country, and contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2002.


Weinstein became actively involved in promoting and supporting the Democratic legislative agenda.


He expanded his contributions to include PACs and advocacy groups in the mid-2000s.

In the mid-2000s, during the 2004 and 2006 elections, Weinstein poured money into the coffers of congressional candidates, political action committee (PACs), and various liberal charitable causes.

He also notably supported Al Franken’s run for senate in Minnesota in 2007.


Weinstein’s influence in Washington continued to grow in the early Obama years.

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Weinstein at a state dinner at the White House in April 2012 in honor of visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron
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Brendan Hoffman/Stringer via Getty Images

Throughout the late 2000s, Weinstein continued to support the Clintons, throwing his weight behind Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008. He contributed thousands of dollars to her PAC and her campaign.

But after Barack Obama beat Clinton in the Democratic primary in 2008 and went on to win the White House, Weinstein threw his weight behind him and appeared at public events with members of the first family.


Weinstein’s individual political contributions grew larger and larger after the 2008 presidential election.

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Weinstein (R) with Sen. Chris Dodd (L) in March, 2012 during a panel discussion. Weinstein has given over $35,000 to Dodd since the 1990s.
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Kris Connor/Stringer via Getty Images

Weinstein supported Obama in his re-election campaign.

Weinstein contributed vast sums of money to Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012. During this period he also began supporting progressive Democratic firebrands like now-Sens. Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren.


Weinstein thrived as a financial donor under Obama.

During Obama’s term in office, Weinstein continued to support influential Democratic candidates like Sens. Al Franken and Chuck Schumer. He also gave his largest single contribution ever of $32,400 to the DNC in 2014.


Politicians continued to join Weinstein on red carpets and at galas.

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Weinstein (R) with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand at the Time 100 Gala in April 2014.
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Jemal Countess/Stringer via Getty Images

Here, he’s pictured with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. He has given thousands of dollars to Gillibrand’s campaigns.


Weinstein supported causes, backed by Democrats, that he felt would help the arts and advance the progressive agenda.

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Weinstein (R) with Sen. Chuck Schumer (L) at Schumer’s ceremony in New York City in April 2014 announcing a plan to give tax breaks to theater productions
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Monica Schipper/Stringer via Getty Images

Weinstein’s sexual harassment scandal is now coming back to haunt those he supported.

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Patrick Leahy received several thousand dollars from Weinstein over the course of almost three decades
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Win McNamee/Getty Images

After years of building and consolidating his power among Democratic presidents, politicians, and organizations, Weinstein’s influence has been damaged significantly as a result of the sexual harassment claims being made against him.

Numerous Democrats, like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, are now under pressure to return donations he made to them. Sen. Patrick Leahy has already pledged to give away the money Weinstein has donated to him. He has since been joined by eight other prominent Democrats including Sens. Kamala Harris, Chuck Schumer, and Elizabeth Warren, all of whom are giving Weinstein’s moneyto charities that are fighting for women’s issues and against sexual violence.